A wheelchair bound photographer has only the rear window of his apartment to fill his time while he recovers form a broken leg, and believes he may have witnessed a murder taking place during his recuperation period.
Legendary photographer L.B. ‘Jeff’ Jefferies (James Stewart) has been confined to barracks after getting a little too close to the action at his last job and breaking his leg. Between visits from his nurse, Stella (Thelma Ritter) and lover, Lisa (Grace Kelly), all he has to do is stare out of the window of his apartment at what his neighbours are doing. Before long, however, the mundane goings-on take a more sinister turn, or at least Jeff thinks so when he spies activities that only point towards murder in his eyes. He has a hard time convincing his friends and associates of what he’s seen, which leaves everyone wondering what really happened between two of the neighbours.
The Talking Stars podcast recently did an episode focusing on the films of Alfred Hitchcock – a director whose work I had seen next to nothing of when I heard news of this special episode we were doing on his films. This meant I had homework to do. The Hitchcock film with which I made my maiden voyage was Rear Window, and here’s what I thought…
I quite enjoyed James Stewart in his role. His performance was typical of what I’d imagine men were like during this time, and in a way, was quite true to what many men would be like today. I could feel his frustration as he tried to convince those around him of what he believed he had seen, although I needed some convincing myself as to whether or not a murder had taken place.
The main female performances here were one of the things I liked most about the whole film. In my eyes, Thelma Ritter and Grace Kelly didn’t play women that would have been most in line with the period. Both had a rebellious streak, evident in the scenes where they went to investigate one of Jeff’s neighbours’ apartments. This was nice to see as Rear Window was created in a time when women were very much expected to know their place and stay there. For them to be the ones who carried out Jeff’s dirty work for him was good to see.
This film’s subject matter is what I would say has secured it’s place in history. Looking out of windows is something that we all do, especially when we think something of interest is going on outside. Hitchcock captured the element of human curiosity terrifically well within this setting, and such elements have never changed, and perhaps never will. On the face of it, it is such a simple area to explore, but evidently there is so much to be gained from it as the film has stood, and continues to stand, the test of time.
On the whole, Rear Window was a nice introduction to the films of Alfred Hitchcock for me. I liked the main characters, and found some scenes to be very funny. It has certainly developed for me an interest in films from the master of suspense, and so I am eager to watch more from him.